main main songs + releases music the band news + press tours online

[what's new]

<-Index Next-> : NPR Music Interview with John Craig (illustrator)

Back to the Interviews index

Sex+Design Interview - 2012-12-23
Sex+Design Magazine
(lookup on

Interviewing Billy Corgan is similar to that shot in an action flick, where we follow a flying arrow in its dizzying POV spin, slicing the air toward its intended target. But the arrow is abruptly stopped dead, snatched by a hand thrust up before penetration. Billy grips an interviewer's question, guides it to where he will fearlessly place its point, and then proceeds to scrape away at the viscera. And it's not just his being under the arrow that will be revealed, as needed. You'd better be ready to be challenged as well — you the reader and you the interviewer. Corgan is open to revelation in a way few artists are, and can stand both within and outside his culture or society. Not beholden to the given state of reality, he is more hospitable to other states of being — something I know because, when I wrote and lived under the avatar of JT LeRoy, Billy was one of the very few to understand fully the why of it and allow it just to be. That openness defines the creative explorations in his music, and Billy's band, The Smashing Pumpkins, continues their journey with their brilliant and critically acclaimed new album Oceania.

I thought my capacity to feel high when I'm listening to music, that chemical reaction in me, that it was something that I didn't have, that capacity to feel that level of joy when I was listening to music, the exhilaration. You proved that wrong.

Haha! Well, good!

What's the reaction been like?

Really positive. The most excited that people have been about my music probably since the mid 90's.

From what I have seen, the reaction has been fantastic! I mean, finally the media has opened their eyes!

I've been saying, that for a while, I've know I've been worth more dead than alive. And then once they realize there's more money when you're alive, well, they resurrect you! They start singing your praises with gritted teeth!

How will you feel when you're finally inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame?

Believe it when I see it.


I just, I think that the Pumpkins – and I use the word "institution" judiciously – has sort of transcended into this other thing. That engages a bigger debate than whether or not the music is good.

It's everything you've always predicted and always talked about. It's been the same with me. I realized there a part where I could die and it would quiet the attack, give them pause. And then, there is the 'dying-young-romance.' But then I realized, "Wait a minute. What if I hang in there?" Yeah, I always quote you when you said to me, "You can't stand up in a tsunami," and you sure have survived enough tsunamis. Once it dies down, and once it gets quiet, then people can re-evaluate. Going back to your music, I wrote to Bjorn (Thorsud co-producer along with Corgan) today, and told him, "My God, the production on Oceania is just gorgeous. I can hear everything". And I don't even have great speakers! Everything is just so clear; the mix is just, it's fantastic. I mean, it's just really really perfect. You did a great job, Billy! And it feels like it's designed to make everybody cum!

(Laughs) I'd like to be included in that group, thank you!

I don't know if the creator gets to be in on it! I know there's some kind of story where the magician gets to spread his joy to everybody. Everybody gets to fall to their knees, and there's that kind of bliss. Maybe you have to walk alone for a little more. But it seems so designed in that realm of just, it's like a long love-making session. It just feels like you keep giving them, sorry, but you just keep re-entering, just when I think it's like "okay okay, let me catch my breath." You, you, you do your Corgan thing, and you say "OK, now you'll come…" But you sustain, you sustain. You tease and then you're like, "Okay okay okay…" And then, you're like BAM! And it's all there. And I wonder how much of that, I mean that's so innate with you, do you feel like you have a band that can back you up? That you are able just do it, to express who you are, how you are, like in all the realms?

No, I think, this band, has a different base-fundamental. If the base-fundamental of the old band was power and violence, the base-fundamental of this band is sort of a little more grand, a little more graceful. A little bit better with the economy and space. It's different because it's a different set of weapons to use. And it's probably more akin to the 80′s or new wave or something. Ya know where it's like hypnosis of the groove. Subtle changes in tone and texture, things like that, so it's taken a while for us to dial in, because the old way was just to kind of hammer, and hammer harder. So it's taken me a while even to let go of that, as a sort of final destination point. This stuff can meander differently, but it requires a different concentration and a different kind of confidence. So. That's why.

It's great. I really, I really wasn't – I love Jimmy (Chamberlin); I loved the way that the two of you went together, and I just couldn't imagine it ever being other.

Yeah, I look it, sort of like, we're a different theatrical ensemble. And it's like if we're doing the same Chekhov play, this ensemble is a little drier and would probably emphasize different points than the other band would. So some people come looking for the bombast, and it's there in spaces, but it's almost there to set up other things. So it's almost been more an adjustment for me. But one thing that has helped was realizing that the power, the power stuff, has been so assimilated by the general culture. You have pop stars doing the Pixies, Nirvana grunge moves now. It really doesn't, it's really not effective as a dynamic device. So subtlety is working to our favor, cause almost nobody is doing subtlety. Ya know at least not with that kind of power. It's a little confusing, but that's the way I see it.

Well, it's organic for you. You know it; it's your breath. You do sense deeply how to craft it. It's like for me, somebody saying, "Wow, that's amazing what you pulled off. I'm going to do that!" And all I can say is good luck! There's a difference from a creation being from your core being, or something that you slip into, like trying on your mom's shoes. It must be of your blood, to have a felt authenticity.

Yeah, its probably a little closer to my own personal tastes, but you know, the world we grew up in, especially working-class Chicago. Learning how to hammer people in between their eyes- it was sort of what you needed to do – to get attention. And so, essentially from 1989 through 1996-97, that was a fairly effective way to get people's gaze to hold. But toward the end of the 90s that had started to diminish, and it took me a while to accept that that really wasn't going to work anymore, no matter how effectively I did it. If that makes any sense.


It's like anybody can write like Hemingway now, you know what I mean? But there was a time when people would kinda step back and say "How do you write with such economy?" People can cop the moves, but they can't cop the lateral moves.

Right. They can try on the style, but actually there's the depth of being and the soulfulness, that they just can't copy.

It's worked out now, where people start coming back and cycling back from the depths and saying, "I can't get this thing out of my cd player. I've listened to this record 14 times in a row now, and every time I listen to it, I hear more." So we're getting those kind of compliments. To actually hear what's in there because I feel like it's always in there, it's just getting them to listen.

I loved the Zwan, I loved the last Smashing Pumpkins album; I loved "Zeitgeist." For me it's like a continuation; it's a conversation, and it's always new and different. To me, it's just drinking, being able to drink more from the well. That I don't feel like I will ever get enough. I know it will continue to nourish and sustain me. So let me ask you something about the stage show, because it's the same guy (Sean Evans) who did Waters / The Wall tour.

Yeah, well, I saw the show, The Wall, and I was blown away by the re-contextualization of the material. And in synchronicity, Sean had worked on it; Evans knew our soundman, John Lemons. So he introduced me to Sean and I reached out to Sean at some point and said, "Is this something you'd be interested in", because The Wall stuff keeps him pretty busy? and so he said yes and he put forward a proposal, and I was pretty fascinated by the proposal, because a lot of what was in there was mostly just images, still imagines. Reminded me of this documentary I'd seen on this guy Haeckel. You know this documentary?

No. Who was Haeckel?

Lemme make sure I spell his name for you right, I'm sitting in front of a computer. I think it's Haeckel. You should watch this documentary; I think you'd really like it.

I will check it out.

He was a biologist, a naturalist in the 1800′s, early 1900′s, and he became obsessed with these little sea creatures that have shells. And how the diversity of design, yet the intelligence in the design, basically to him was a religious epiphany. He saw God in the natural order. So there's this beautiful documentary about him becoming obsessed with these little sea creatures and seeing them as divine things. And so when I saw Sean's proposal, I thought, "Oh, he must have seen this Haeckel documentary because it was all about natural forms…"


Which I thought was kind of fascinating, like he had like horse skulls, and seashells, and stuff like that. And it was something about the way he wanted to apply the natural order to the visuals, that made total sense to the geometry that I had made the album on.

What made that geometry to you?

Um…hard to explain, but in my mind, it kind of flashes like DNA helix stuff. You know, basically, music is math.


And the more complex you get with the math and the more you work through the diversity of the math, or the progressional diversity of the math, the more it starts to remind you of DNA helixes.


That's why when I hear Bach, I hear DNA helixes. It's like an infinitesimal order. The universe has no end to its' variation, i.e. you know, Pi. But yet there is an order to the binding of the infinitesimal… and so when I called Sean and said, "Oh you've seen the Haeckel documentary?" and he was like "No, I don't know what you're talking about." And so, I was very surprised by that. He'd sort of picked up on that intrinsic tangent. But it hadn't been expressed by me and so it's cool, because the video that plays, which is on an orb, a 25-foot orb. We had to – in essence – develop new technology to actually be able to project images onto an orb, so they wouldn't blur. So, it has this kind of 360 effects, this glowing planet above us. He's got this sort of spinning natural order thing and it's sort of interesting. Because it's adding to the music without taking away from it. Which I think is the biggest challenge.

Well, it's sort of adding to the subconscious language.

Yes, that what I'm saying. So when you see objects in natural order, there's a languaging in there. Well, it's the same thing with the math of music. So I felt he was languaging natural order, and the music is languaging natural order in a different way. And then, I was like, "Ok, this makes sense to me."

You're someone who's always constantly working. But when you are, you're always submitted to a different state when you're working. I mean, but you can slip in and out of it very easily. So it's not even as if, because to me, you're someone who is usually in communion with spirit. That it's not hard for you to get to that place of being in communion with spirit. And that to me is all of it; I mean, it comes through, it's physical, it's emotional, spiritual.

Yeah, I mean for me, I think it's an emerging consciousness. But it gets into the sublime question of what is the Now? And as humans, we try to think of, we can't help but think of, the finite and the end. Like when we read a book, we think, "How does this fucking thing end?" But when you read a really good book, you don't want it to end! Cause the characters and the narrative, together, is like a ray; it just goes out into space. And I think good music is like that; I think a good movie is like that; a good story is like that; I think a good relationship is like that. It's an infinitesimal re-establishment of what it is. But in order to understand what it is, you have to be like in the Now. It's like freeze-frame, freeze-frame, freeze-frame. The consciousness of recognition. But in the Buddhist tradition, you're not attached to the image that you're in in the Now. And I think that's what's so mind-boggling to me about music. Although you see much more variation in pop and in electronic music, rock music is really rigidly attracted to the same. But it's interesting to sit and pose questions like what if AC/DC had become obsessed with, I don't know, electronic music. Would they have been able to make great electronic music, or would they ultimately have come back to being AC/DC? What I learned from the great producers who I worked with, is that by exploring those other musical traditions, whenever I would come back to rock, I would come back with some new languaging, some new perspective. A different darkness to apply. And I've done it for so long now that I don't really have, I don't really care to be genre-specific. The music business is of course calibrated towards being genre-specific. Classical, blues, alternative rock, hence people throwing up their hands the minute they hear synthesizers or something. But it's really funny to me because at its core value, it's just a bunch of math. To me, I start with a bunch of math, and out of that math I create a style, and I create with the band's participation, we create an aesthetic landscape to play in; and then the world treats you as if your aesthetic decisions are an exact reflection of who you are. And of course the answer is, it's an exact reflection of who you are in the moment. By the time you get around to it, you've probably already moved on. Hence in your case, who are you? That was always a dumb question to me. That is, who you were then, and this is who you are now. And who you'll be, it doesn't, they are reflective and related, but they're not definitive.

What always amazes me is how much you are able give your perspective of the self over, you give yourself to the given situation and to the given character, whether that's music or it's me coming at you at whatever form that was. I never felt that I was able to leap out, risking everything the way I did with you. I mean, the only time I felt that again was with David Milch, and you know what kind of being he is. But it just seems like you were born that way. I was watching old interviews with you. And I was so struck. Because I so feel solid to me now, but I didn't feel solid to me 5 years ago. I feel like if I compared myself now, I feel like Corgan. I know how to handle when fans come up to me, I feel a sense of validity inside. That you just always, you know how you are? just this thing inside you that's solid. And when I watch these old videos of you, it's there. It's like you're not afraid to have them not like you.

Yeah, well, I mean, I think that there are two things that are key in that thought. One is, when you come from an abusive background you have to be adaptable.

Oh yeah…

And so, because, in essence, to betray your central voice, your central beliefs, means that you'll be beaten. So you learn to betray sub-voices. But of course, by betraying sub-voices, I kind of stitched together a different personality. Which you could argue is true or less true. But secondarily, I think watching my special-needs brother grow up, and watching the cruelty of others towards him, when he posed no direct threat. He didn't have a communicable disease, he wasn't violent, he wasn't violent in his speech. And the way that people would attack him because they couldn't understand him, that was very illuminating to me at a very young age. How cruel people could be without really much inspiration. And if you look at any situation where there's mass hypnosis; Nazi Germany, Stalin's Russia, Maoist China, North Korea, you see this interesting community of violence that lurks beneath. Every artist, of course, understands this kind of out-wire concept, where you know when you first step outside the pack, you get a different impression. You start hearing words like weird, creepy? what makes you think that your opinion is valuable? If you survive it, you end up say, writing for a magazine. You're the guy who writes the poetic article on the basketball game. Michael Jordan swam through the air like a swan. Or whatever the fuck. But ultimately, most of those people are still contained in the system. There are very few artists that actually escape the systems and live in the inter-lands between the systems. Does that make sense?

Yeah, completely.

I had a moment where I realized that I had been outside the tribe, so to speak. And it really bothered me. Because I thought, "Well, if this were 1842, I'd be a valuable member of my tribe. In this world I'm treated like some sort of weird pariah, because my perspective is so broad." So ultimately, it's just been about getting comfortable with the perspective. It doesn't make life any easier, you know, relating to the people who have "normal lives" – it's kind of difficult. I'm always aware of this existential desperation underneath the surface of everything. There's this book I just read, it's kind of interesting. You might find it interesting, called HitlerLand by Andrew Nagorski. It's first-person accounts from Americans, who were living in Nazi Germany as the whole thing happened. So it's chronological and some people drink the Kool-Aid and get very into the you know "oh my God what an incredible torchlight parade", and other people start reacting, as early as 1923, "Holy shit! This is crazy, what's happening!" I mean, there were people who stepped out in the 20s, very early on, and recognized that something really sinister was happening. But it's interesting to read, because you watch people's real time consciousness develop. And we're going through similar things in America right now where we have crumbling social, economic, spiritual, systems, and you just watch people continue to press the button, and how these things are going to restore themselves, with no shift. Like the Catholic Church in America, which has just been really, really hurt by these sexual pedophile scandals and things like that. I mean, just keep plowing a straight line, as if it's got to go back to 1952, and everybody's just going to start going back to church again. Yeah, so it's fascinating to me, so to me, I view it as an invasive system: systems of control, systems of thought, systems of inherent DNA. And how they all intersect into this bigger conversation, and how they apply. And what you choose to do with them.

It's really, really hard to keep in the Now. Not letting resentment be your organization principal.

Yeah, I did it for a decade (laughter) or plus!

Well, it's hard to not let that be your default.

I had to experience sort of a different kind of deficit. But it had to be at my own hand.

What do you mean?

Well, you know being so interpersonal in my work in the 90s, about killed me. It attracted people into my life who were willing to exploit that sensitivity. So, you know if you're a functional person who wants to survive, then you go, ok right, turn the spigot off, turn the spigot off. This bitch won't be able to get me, these people won't be able to get inside my psyche. But, of course, you turn off the tap, to whatever that thing is. I wanted to see actually, whether I could continue to work at a high level with those caps turned off. You know, and what ended up happening more than anything, was my sort of personal life withered away. And, you know I went from being sort of a golden child to a village idiot. But I was always aware of what was happening.

What do you mean the village idiot? I don't understand.


In your perception?

Yes, well, self-reflected back at me. Let me explain it this way: None of us could've guessed in the 90s, or the early 2000's that fame would become the number 1 arbiter of everything in America…not success, not accomplishment, not even wealth. Fame.

Right I know, I know.


Yeah, people just think of you – if you achieved any FAME, like you've got the ring.

If you're an artist in the fame position, and you throw that fame away, you're an idiot. Because you have everything everybody wants.

Yeah right, like for me? with the narratives about "me", it's the echo chamber of, why did you hide? And that I obviously created the JT persona to get famous, even though people didn't know who I was during it.

(joking) Why didn't you do celebrity rehab? You would have sold more books, and been able to tell your story one more time. It's mind-boggling to that crowd, that you actually wanted to get small. Or quiet. Or take a different route. For me, I have to explore different things, like okay, what is the true value of integrity? You ultimately realize that those who originally assigned integrity are fucking liars. So you've got people who have no investment in whether you live or die, assigning a higher value to you based on their system of integrity.

Yeah, that's so true.

So, if you're like a working-class kid from Chicago, who thinks about leaving something behind for his descendants, because he wants to make sure that his family ends up in a better position than when they came in, there is some college kid who comes from a rich family who's going to tell you that's a bourgeois, embarrassing thing to do.

Why do you care? Do you care?

Well, see, to me, where it got complicated for me is, I idealized everything because I had no tangible relationship to any of it. So I idealized Jimmy Page; I idealized integrity; I idealized Kerouac. The difference between, on this level, the difference between Bob Dylan and me, is Bob Dylan figured out at a very young age, that it was all a fucking scam. So he played it really close to his vest. And didn't give anything away. Me? I went the other way. I actually listened to the questions. They'd say "Well, what about this?" and I'd reach into my back pocket and say "Well, here's my evidence". Which would just condemn me to a deeper reign of the conversation. Which ends up selling magazines, which ends up leading to you're worth more dead than alive.

Well, you couldn't be any other way, Billy. When you open, you open. You and I are very similar like that. I watch these interviews with you and I think, oh my God. Because it's modulation. You could do it in your fucking music. Because that's where you can modulate. But when you start talking, you think it you say it, I'm the same way. And you don't modulate. You're binary. You're either on or you're off. All or nothing. Don't filter!

I said in this interview the other day- it's really funny to me. I can say these really incendiary things in songs, and nobody moves a muscle? but God forbid I stated it in an interview! (laughs)

But that's the reason why because you're speaking a language of the subconscious. It's how you get a child to eat the medicine…maybe God sent you to put the aspirin, the medicine, in applesauce. And the music in that part of the brain, in that subconscious part: it's language; it's music; it's math; it's all connected. It's all there. If you have that, you can't even trick yourself, by shutting the fuck up, mixing it up, by modulation. So that you can come across, so you can be heard. Like, when you grow up in an abusive family, the one thing that was there for me was the frustration of not being heard and being shut down. And the aloneness. And the design of your music is a felt sense of community. I don't feel alone. I feel so held. I feel like you are talking to me. It was always there. I remember watching the video of you of "1979″ and it still happens to me, I just tested it, to see…And remember I'm very anti-hero worship, but I got this feeling it was like the tipping point for me. I cannot see this video again because I don't, I don't fall in love with people. I'm not a celebrity lover. I'm not into hero worship. But I felt this thing working on me, and it was like okay, separate the music from? the singer. From you. And at the time, I didn't know you. And I couldn't separate it. I was like, what is this being doing? I just heard the calling, the harmonics of it in your work. It's like a big giant fucking dog / dolphin whistle. And it just comes out, when you, uh, blow, so to speak. There is that part of your music that is combative, but then there is the part so tender, sweet, and so restrained. And I've seen you be so gentle with people coming to you. With fans. But as soon as somebody comes at you with aggression, you're like on it, they can't get over on you. You, it's on or off. But in your music, it exists in this very fluid way. It goes up-and-down, it's the total round trip. And that's why, to me, it's just like pure unadulterated sex.


When I stand above you, I've told you this before, when I'm above you in that spot, I'm spent at the end of the night, I'm gone! It's like I'm gone! It's like I'm barely, I just want to see you, say good night and I'm gone. (laughs) Thanks for the good time, there's nothing more to say. I got what I came for. And I know I'm not the only one feeling that. It helps to be right above you there. In my spot.

All right.

(laughs) But it's the sheer power. When were you aware that you have this? You know, it reminds me of something Milch (David Milch, creator of Luck, Deadwood) says, "I'm an instrument of purposes that I don't fully understand, but I know they are of service."

Well, I don't know, I've gone through lots of different head-trips on the whole thing. I don't know.

No, you do! I don't buy that for a second.

I have a specific intent, but it's always enveloped in a larger conversation that, you know, doesn't really do any good. I go back to, if you spend a lot of time thinking that you know, thinking that you know what you're doing, you're kind of wasting your time. Because, here is a better way to say this. I listened to a song from 15 years ago that I didn't think was very good, and I'll be really surprised by the messaging in it. I'll hear something in it, now, that I didn't even consciously know I was consciously putting in, then. So I'm like thinking, how was I putting that in there, if I wasn't thinking of putting that in there, but I'm hearing it now 15 years later. It's kind of weird to me. Because I remember what I was thinking, so I stopped trying to worry about when I think of things. I just trust that whatever I'm saying is applicable. It's more based on synchronicity principles than conscious intention.

Have you heard David Eagleman speak?

Na uh.

He's a neuroscientist; I'll send you the link, he's fucking great. He talks about these studies, when there's an accident occurring to you, and we just experience time slowing, going in slow motion. He did these studies and of course, time does not actually slow, like a movie. It's just our brain layering memory with more thickness during trauma. Most of life, as Virginia Woolf talks about, is being "a kind of nondescript cotton wool". So Eagleman writes about the different folds and layers of the brain and how we just don't have answers to so much of how our brain works, let alone the universe, or God. As when the reveal (that I was JT LeRoy) came about, and the media is faced with a 39-year-old woman, and they are looking at the JT creation, and to them, it looks like the Taj Mahal, carefully and knowingly crafted. And they shove their tape recorders at me, demanding, "How did you do it?!" And I when I responded, "I don't know!" – those three little words given to us by science. I don't know. It freaked them the fuck out. Because most people, I would say, are a mystery unto themselves. And they would never even begin to entertain that concept. So again, as Milch says, "I'm an instrument of purposes I don't fully understand."

Yeah, to take that point, I think it's a weird feeling because – and this gets back a little bit to your situation – there's a part of us that wants to take possession of the voicing, and of course we are responsible for part of it but not all of it. Then, of course, you get into the idea of copyright. Like who owns this material? And then, of course, there is this ego gratification, then we rub our chests and say, "Yeah, I did that." But the reality is, it's some sort of weird mechanism that's part vessel, part vehicle. And you know, is everybody a container that's filled with love or light or vibration from an external source? And is everybody transmuting that? And then, of course, maybe we're just better at it. But then, we get the ego part of it all, but, I mean, there's really nothing unique about it at all. I mean, you could argue that we're all instruments of something.

You know Kekulé, he was trying to solve the problem of benzene rings. And he was working on it for 20 years. And then he went to sleep one night, and he had a dream of a snake swallowing its tail. He woke up the next morning, and he had solved the problem! He said, "Well, I had this dream, and I saw this in my dream." And people said, "Well, that's pretty good for a night's sleep," but he said, "Visions come to prepared spirits." And I think some people are prepared spirits and some are not.

Yeah, but the only point I'm trying to make is that, you know, the hubris of the artist is we are receiving some sort of divine information, but you could argue that everybody is receiving divine information. And everybody's just acting up their particular end of the program. Not everybody was designed to be a communicator. Some people are designed to just be receivers. Some people are designed to be the conduit between, you know, multiple forces. Kiki de Montparnasse, once the Muse of the Picasso, obviously a beauty in her own right, but essentially a well-represented concubine. Incredibly vital, but you know, she was living out her program. It's interesting because this is a much bigger conversation, so if you really go into the energetic of the divine, it's very personal, but there is also a level of impersonality to it. Which is kind of strange. Where it feels like some kinds of cogs in the cosmic machine. I don't think it lacks love; I would say that what feels like coldness is just the virtual reality that nothing is real. So maybe who's ever up there, who's putting those machinations in a row, doesn't really get hung up on some of the stuff that we get hung up on, because it doesn't really matter. So seeing that from kind of a multidimensional perspective is kind of strange and haunting to me because there's a part of the universe that says, "Yeah, do it if you want? but, then again, don't do it if you don't want." There was a period of my life where I felt incredibly compelled to communicate because I felt like somebody was asking me to communicate. Now I'm at a point in my life where I'm not so sure about that. I think it's more like a functional opportunity, and in the Now I can choose to engage it, or I can choose to not engage it.

Well, at the end of the day, it saves lives. I get a lot of people, who come to me to communicate with you. So many people come, and they share their stories; they tell me how your work saved their lives. There's this one girl who I met, she told me how your work has changed her life.

Hold on one second. I'm missing a cat. I'm having a paranoid moment. Sorry.

You are missing a what?

A cat.

Oh. Wait, this is too much a perfect opportunity! Billy, how are your pussies?

I've got 2 doggies and 2 kitties now, so.

Which ones are they?

Um, the same kitties, Sam and Tom. But I've got 2 chocolate labs now. I can hear a cat crying from distance but I can't figure out where she's crying from.

You know, one thing that I think about all the time, is how you have those Henry Darger?

Mm hmm.

I think about that all the time. I think about standing there and looking at your paintings. And I remember just being so taken by the concept that he didn't need a sense of community. His art was enough; he didn't need to ask for permission or seek approval. And I feel jealous of that but I also feel sad, for him.

I guess that's kind of what I'm hacking at. I don't even know what to think about it anymore. Because I went through such a period of dispossession where I saw my accomplishments, my legacy, sort of taken away from me, my narrative sort of taken away from me? rewritten in, re-appropriated for different uses. Because in essence I didn't have enough "material power." When I had enough material power I could control the narrative to a certain degree. And the only reason I think I'm back in a place of material power is because I stopped caring about it. You know the Muse of It All kind of came back to me, because I stopped being enslaved by whatever the consciousness was.

What is a moment? How did that happen within the moment?

No, it was, just, it was all on stage.

A process?

There were 4 or 5 years there when I barely did any interviews. You know, and I had to like let go of being in the conversation. I had to let go of trying to control the story. I had to let go of the image of the old band to replace it with the new musical opportunity. People would say, "Why do you continue with the name?" Well, because it pisses people off. You know, it was like continuing to break down, and break down, and break down something to where it was almost like something they couldn't break down anymore. And so in the middle of all that ruin, here we come back with a very strong effort. It turns everything on its head because it's not supposed to be happening. But in the process of going through all that dispossession, the process of walking alone all those years, feeling isolated and being taken advantage of?watching fans try to, literally, trying to separate me from me. It was the most bizarre concept. They talk to me like it was some other guy who wrote "Tonight, Tonight" or "Today" or "1979″ or "Siamese Dream" or "Adore." As if it were another human being. Like almost tapping on my head, like being "Hey, can you bring that guy back? I don't know where you put him." So kind having come around full circle with it, being back in the land of milk and honey, I sorta see it for the sham and the fraud that it is. The only way I can even be in it is just to be in the Now, and the Now of musical opportunity, the Now that it still exists, the Now that I'm on stage playing somewhere. It's all that's left for me.

Let me ask you? how do you deal with? you have a phenomenal power. It's a seductive sexual power.

Seductive. I'll go with seductive.

Fuck that. Yeah, it's very seductive. It's kind of like Svengali in a way. You've opened those parts of the brain, where people are just so available, are so affected. And it's kind of like, almost like that cliché where the preacher, the healer would just throw a look and folks are just knocked out. Like Marilyn Monroe puts her hip out, boom, you


I mean, you literally do that on stage, when you put your arms out and you point? and you send those bolts.. you do, you do it! And it must be really hard to, I don't even know. How you deal with having that kind of energy?

Well, you don't.

And how does that work in a relationship?

Well, you don't. It's sort of like, you know – what did I hear when I was a little kid, "You're too intense." Well, that's the intensity that translates to a crowd. You know, I was watching "Midnight in Paris" by Woody Allen, and you know the female lead is Marion Cotillard, the French actress. And she's such an instrument of her emotions, that she literally can't be still? you know what I mean. And I'm not talking as if she's fidgeting in her chair, but they put the camera on her, and her emotions literally just ripple out of her being. And the guy says something, and she's supposed to read her line, and there's those 4 seconds before, and you just see the emotions, and I thought, "Wow! What an incredible actress." I'm not up there thinking anything? I'm up there thinking, "What's the next fucking chord?" The only consciousness I have that is deliberate is, is I am constantly reading the crowd.

Do you think you ever misread it?

(laughs) No!

Source: Sex+Design Magazine


1984 | 1988
1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999
2000 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009
2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013

Main | Songs & Releases | Music | The Band | News & Press | Tours | Online

copyright © 1999-2023
Section corrections/submissions:
General site info/bugs: /
Get updates on twitter / connect via facebook. Like the site? Order something from Amazon. is in no way associated with or authorized by the smashing pumpkins, zwan, billy corgan, or any of their agents.